Baboon Pirates

Scribbles and Scrawls from an unrepentant swashbuckling primate.

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Location: Texas, United States

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Getting Loaded

Practice Makes Competence

I met the Cisco Kid yesterday for a sushi feast, then went back to his place to reload some .45 Long Colt rounds. I priced a box of .45 LC at Carter's Country, and they were asking $50 for 50 rounds. Ouch...

CK and I went halves on a progressive reloading press a while back, and I'm not making as much use out of it as I ought to. Problem is, I mostly don't think about reloading rounds until I go to the gun range.

Well, my inexperience operating the press came back to bite me...

What was intended to be a 2-3 hour session went over 10 hours, and still only resulted in 90 usable rounds. Broke a depriming pin, spilled a bunch of powder, and somehow managed not to drain CK's liquor supply when the frustration level peaked.

We've discovered that if you don't clean out the primer pocket after decapping the old primer, the new primer won't seat deeply enough, and you can't close the cylinder on the revolver as a result.

Of course, decapping 400+ cases means you have to run them through the press twice, pausing in the middle with a tiny steel brush to scrub them all out. A cigar helped that task immensely...

A glitch in the indexing of the case holder made that a long, frustrating task.

Adding insult to injury, it turns out that you are not supposed to use copper-jacketed bullets with the gunpowder I used. The friction rate is much higher than a lead bullet, and you might get a pressure spike and explode your gun. These are fairly light loads, but no use gambling with your life. Looks like I'll be pulling 100 bullets out of their cases one at a time, and starting over...

Ah, well. I've still got 225 rounds on hand for the upcoming trip to Tennessee. Between those and the 100 rounds of buckshot for the coach gun, we ought to be able to get by...

Friday, October 29, 2010

Ad Astra Per Ballista?

Problems To Ponder Whilst Puffing A Perdomo

Got an interesting email from a buddy of mine this week:
Is It Possible?

How big would a trebuchet have to be to place an Apollo sized space
craft in low Earth orbit? Arm length? counter weight mass?

I had to think about that one for a couple of days...

My email reply:
Been thinking about this for a while now…

Couldn’t find any of my old physics textbooks, so I’m gonna wing it.

Is it possible?

The short answer is, probably not. Unless Materials Science gets to the point where we can dump raw material into a hopper, and let nanobots construct the entire thing from the molecular level over the space of years, it would be cost-prohibitive. Much cheaper to build booster rockets.

The Saturn V rocket could boost 262,000 lbs into low earth orbit. To do that it had to burn a metric assload of fuel to hit escape velocity.

According to Wikipedia: On the surface of the Earth, the escape velocity is about 11.2 kilometers per second (~6.96 mi/s), which is approximately 34 times the speed of sound (Mach 34).

That’s pretty fargin’ fast. To get that kind of force out of a trebuchet, you’d have to have one seriously long swingarm.

Using the usual swinging-bucket trebuchet, that long whippy arm would snap under the load. On the version that uses a thick pole with a fixed counterweight at the base, the total weight would probably be too great for the axle bearings. There’s a top-end limit on how large you can forge or machine parts, and the axle would have to be thicker than a sequoia trunk. We’d be talking about a kilometer-long arm, and a 2km high frame with a base area the size of the I-610 loop.

The counter weight would have to allow for not only the mass of the payload, but the weight of the entire arm. I can’t see the swinging-bucket type being usable. Even if you went with a floating-arm trebuchet, the the torsion and flex of that whole thing moving would be unmanageable. No welds or rivets could take the load. It would have to be a monolithic frame, which brings me back the nanobot construction scheme.

Add to that the insane g-forces inflicted on the payload during the fling, and I just don’t see it as feasible.

Probably cheaper to build a Beanstalk!

If there's any physics gurus out there, please feel free to chime in!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Beat It, Dragworm!!

I Gave At The Office...

After 6 years of teaching various types of "How Not To Get Fired" classes to other minions of The Man, I've got my spiel down pretty well. Could probably do it blindfolded and wrecked on cheap tequila.

Another "benefit" of working downtown is that I get to hear the pre-recorded spiels of the various bums and derelicts that populate the area.

I've heard some doozies over the years... From the bedraggled wino in Times Square who screamed "GIVE ME A DOLLAR, MOTHERFUCKER!!" to Psycho Mary over on Main Street who asks for spare change in a small, sweet voice, then proceeds to pound on car windows while screaming like a banshee about "FBI Spy Assholes!!"

The latest variation on the theme is for the bum to walk up and ask if you can help them out. Apparently years of rejections has forced them to modify their script.

The twist is, they've added the guilt-wringer at the end. When they get the usual reply of "Sorry, I don't have any cash", they put on a hurt face and say something along the lines of "I wasn't even going to ask you for money, man...", then launch into some long sad spiel that invariably leads to them... guess what? Asking for money!!

Lest you think I'm some kind of heartless asshole, I give a shitload of $$ each year to the local homeless shelter, and throw some bucks at the food pantries as well. I guarantee, if you walk up with a couple of hungry kids and beg a meal, I'll feed them at the nearest eatery, no questions asked. Hell, I'll even buy your dog a bag of kibble.

What I will *NOT* do is give you any cash. Period. Take a F'in hike.

I got so annoyed at this bum in downtown Austin on Tuesday... (The perpetual flock of bums that hang out on Guadalupe Street preying on the UT students and tourists are known as "Dragworms")

Anyway, he saunters up and starts in on the sob story, and I (somewhat rudely, but WTF) gave a short version of "Talk to the hand" and kept on going. This prompted a long drawn-out whine, followed by the inevitable "I wasn't even going to ask you for money, man..."

Oh, really? What then?

"I just wanted to ask you what time it was!"

I looked down at both watchless wrists, and shook my head, still walking the other way.

Just not your day, Sparky...

(Note: Every 30 feet of sidewalk in downtown Austin has a digital parking meter, complete with a visible clock! He needed a better guilt-wringer tagline.)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Capitol Journey

Traveling On Behalf Of The Man...

Had a quick trip to Austin yesterday. Well, quick as in just one day. 7+ hours sitting in the truck seemed like several days, especially the last 50 miles!

The Texas Guvmint had a confab on some new regulations, so I got to head to the state capitol and do some learnin'.

Of course, I had to get properly hydrated for the ordeal. This was the first of three Slurpees consumed during the day. All sugar-free, of course. BTW, how is it that the only sugar-free Slurpee in three different 7-11's is a Mango-Apple flavor? Not bad, but they really need a Diet Dr Pepper flavor...

Stopped at Bobalu Cigars downtown to get a sample of a few of their hand-rolled sticks. Don't forget to pet the pair of ginormous boxer dogs if you stop in!

The Capitol Dome is getting a facelift!

Stopped at Threadgill's for dinner with Dash Riprock. Dash lives in the area, and was the first blogger I met in person way back when.

They apparently have a problem with homicidal hypervelocity armadillos at Threadgill's...

Capping off the trip was a quick stop at my sister's place, where Sam and Grace got to climb all over Uncle Cap!

Next trip starts in a week, heading out to Tennessee!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday Night Fauxball

Kinda Makes You Long For The White & Hogeboom Era


It's tough being a Cowboys fan at times.

38-20 in the 3rd, and the Giants have at least a couple of more touchdowns left in 'em.

This is gonna be ugly...

A special message for you, Jerry Jones!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Project LOLA: Day 401

Keep On Keepin' On!

Yeah, OK, 401's not a nice round number. Meant to write this yesterday, but the zombie t-shirt post was too good to pass up...

It's sort of appropriate, too. I'm no longer a nicely rounded person 401 days into this thing.

There's a long way to go, but things are improving. I've got a recognizable lap once again, which comes in handy for cat-petting and niece & nephew sitting.

I catch myself sitting at tables, leaning over and putting my chin in my hands. Not the most polite thing to do, but the novelty of doing so makes it hard to avoid.

Also a relearned experience - bending over to tie my shoes instead of sitting on a couch or bed and dragging a leg up within easy reach. Nice to be able to trim your toenails without pulling a hamstring.

Those of you who took pictures at Eric's last year might want to dig though your photos and find any of me, and we'll do a comparison. I'm betting you'll be amazed. God knows I sure am...

Speaking of Eric's, it's going to be a doozy of a time trying to stick with LOLA while on the road. Oh, I get a monthly splurge, so I can gobble down some of the smoked pig on Friday, and I'm sure looking forward to the omelet at the Tellico Junction Cafe and whatever foodie goodness that Elisson & SWMBO are going to whip up.

Still, eating out of gas stations and roadside restaurants is always a challenge. I'm pretty sure the Sonic across from the hotel will get some business too. No chili dogs or cheesy tater tots, though, that's a promise! Just the grilled chicken wrap!

Probably another 400 days to go, and somewhere down the line I'm gonna have to have some serious knifework to tighten things up. Google up "panniculectomy" to see what I mean, just make sure you're not eating at the time...

More updates when they occur, and as always, thanks for your support!!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Blown-Eyed T-Shirts??

That *Special* Gift For Eric SWG!!

OK, if you're heading for the Hysterics, here's an idea!

We should all turn up in one of these!!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Mystery Of The Missing McDonald's

Or, El Capitan Has His First Senior Moment!

Last week I was out in the east side of The Man's Realm, poking my nose into matters of middling urgency. Breakfast had not been on the agenda that morning, so I was a bit peckish.

Ahead on the left side of the freeway were the familar Golden Arches of Mickey D's. By a stroke of good fortune, it was the exit I needed. So, I turned left at the light, drove over the freeway, and pulled in to a combo Chevron/McD's for a sugar-free iced coffee.

Now, the east side of town is a bit different from the west side. For one, there was a huge rooster ambling around between the gas pumps, and I appeared to be the only gringo for several miles in any direction.

Nevertheless, the coffee was served quickly, and I moseyed off to my appointment.

Yesterday, I'm heading out to the east side for another meeting, and I think to myself, "Hey, go get another iced coffee!" So I did. Took the Lockwood exit, turned north over the freeway, and pulled into the gas station.

Which had no attached McDonald's. W....T....F....

The McDonald's was a block away, a bit further down the service road. A stand-alone McD's, no gas station to be seen.

OK, I'm in the Twilight Zone. They have gone and moved the Mickey D's, and done it in less than a week!

I was sorely confused... Had I imagined the rooster? Was McDonald's capable of building a new store and completely erasing the existence of the old one in less than 6 days?

Eventually, I figured it out. I had indeed exited the freeway via the Lockwood exit, gone over the bridge, and drove into a rooster-infested parking lot.


Loop 610 & Lockwood:

I-10 & Lockwood:


Thursday, October 21, 2010

LOLA Makes Me Grumpy

The Food Obsession Lingers On...

Y'know what I'm craving right now?

Onion rings.

Big, fat onion rings, hand-sliced and battered in a light tempura-style crust, dusted with Lawry's seasoned salt and fresh cracked pepper, and served with a bowl of Heinz ketchup that's had a tablespoon of Tabasco Garlic hot sauce stirred in.

Oh, and a big greasy double bacon cheeseburger. Almost forgot that.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cranking Up The Tension

Another Blogmeet? Completely Sweet!!

Two weeks and half a day until I leave for points east and a whole lot of fun.

I hope.

I'm really starting to stress under the strain of waiting for the other shoe to drop. My trucks been running quite well these last few months, and that's usually a sign the wheels are about to come off. Literally.

I'm just hoping it can wait until I get back from Tennessee...

Physically, I'm a lot better prepared for the trip than I was last year. Losing 120+ pounds will do that for you. My knees aren't hurting all the time, and I'll actually be able to walk up Eric's driveway without stopping for a breather at the top.

Still, it's one long-ass drive. I've planned for a night's layover in Birmingham to visit a friend, and I'll spend a morning touring their new digs before pushing on to Tennessee. I'll get a solid night's sleep before the fiesta begins, and that's a huge leg-up over last year, when I drove 900 miles non-stop, cat-napped for 5 hours, and then jumped feet-first into the big pot o' crazy.

I'm also sweating the finances a bit. I've not been as diligent as I could have been in squirreling away the savings (Not a word, Zibig! You've already lectured me about this!!)

Anyway, money-wise I'm good for the trip, assuming nothing catastrophic befalls me. I'd feel a lot better if we had this re-org at work behind us, and I didn't have the spectre of redundancy hanging over my head.

If you're attending the Hysterics this year, and need something obtainable only in Texas, holler at me quickly! (Note: I'll gladly bootleg Shiner beer for you, but NOT Coors!)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Coming & Going?

They Just Don't Pay Jizz-Moppers Enough...

OK, this story is just full of ick. From the Houston Press:
There are simple, dignified ways to leave this vale of tears, and then there are other ways.

Among the other ways: Dying in a booth at an adult bookstore, with your body not being found for more than 12 hours.

That's how Brodrick White, 35, went to his reward either Monday night or Tuesday morning, Houston police say.

White, according to security video, entered an adult book store in the 15500 block of the Eastex Freeway about 8:30 p.m. Monday night.
We don't know what happened after that until about 2 p.m. Tuesday, when an attendant discovered his dead body in the booth. We assume he was alive and enjoying the offerings for at least a while.

"White did not appear to suffer any signs of trauma," HPD says.

An autopsy will be performed, to determine the cause of death.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

All The Small Things

It's A Jungle Out There!

Still dinkin' around with the macro function on the Canon...

Tiny Pillow Flowers?

Orange You Lovely?

Red Starbursts

Purple Basil


Friday, October 15, 2010

Recycled Humor

I Got Nothin' Else...

OK, it's been 3 years since I last ran this lame gag, so here it is again:

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Eye See You!

Here's Lookin' At You, Kid!

Just messing around with the macro function on the Canon. Definitely need a flash diffuser!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dodging the Axe?

Tremulous Times At The Man's Terror Tower

If you saw my Facebook post yesterday concerning the impending "reorganization", let me assure you that my job is not one of the ones in jeopardy.


We think...

Long story short, the new head of HR decided to do some empire building, and has convinced The Man that the HR-related functions that had been outsourced to the various departments needed to be pulled back into the central HR section, and while we're at it, let's cut the existing HR workforce by 20%.

They were clever about how they went about it. By making a huge cock-up in the training dept. re-org and putting under the tender care of a person with the compassion of Captain Bligh and the intelligence of a bag of hammers, no one wanted to get exiled to that area. So, when they asked people to define their job duties as a percentage of HR-related affairs, my boss thought it would be better to list ours as 50%+ HR, and thereby avoid getting slapped with the "trainer" label, although that's what we spend a big chunk of our time doing.

Whoops... we fell into their cunning trap. See, as a HR person, now we were obliged to toss our resume in the ring with every other person who fit that category, and interview for the positions available.

OK, if you didn't get one of the new positions, you can just stick with your old department, right? Not so fast, Sparky. The funding for your old position has already been transferred to HR.

Naturally, people are shitting bricks right & left.

Me? I'm not too worried. I'm the only one doing my particular job, and lean more towards Legal than HR, so a quick conference between my director and the Grand Poobah of HR has gotten me (mostly) out of the line of fire.

Still, it's best to take precautions. We're kind of short on lamb's blood in the building. I'm needing something to smear on the door frame of my office to keep the Angel of Unemployment at bay...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tiger Kat Vs. Da Skwerlz

Local Critterz

This is Tiger.

He's a big ol' tomcat, and has a surprisingly sweet meow that emerges from his softball-sized head. He's even been known to jump up in my lap when I'm outside sitting & reading, but only after the cigar has gone out. He's not a fan of burning tobacco...

Tiger "belongs" to the neighbors across the cul de sac. He showed up a few years ago, and learned that you could get free kitty kibble by standing outside their door and yowling.

He's outside 95% of the time, mostly sleeping on top of cars whenever he's not stalking the evil squirrels.

The annoyed look he's giving me is because I scared off the skwerlz when I fired up the truck engine. Kinda reminds me of old Bear Claw's remark to Jeremiah Johnson, "YOU are molesting my hunt!"

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Kinda Two-Dimensional Zombies, But Still Zombies!

If there's anything more fun than spending an afternoon at the gun range, it's being able to shoot horrible Nazi zombies while you're there!

The little .22 holes were contributed by Rorschach's daughter, and once she can get a proper grip on a .45, she'll be a fearless slayer of the undead!!

Sunday Is Fun Day!

Guns, Grub & Grenades! OK, Maybe Not Grenades...

I'm off to the wilds of the north side of town to meet another blogger in meatspace and prove that I'm not just a random collection of bits on a screen.

The restaurant we're meeting at is famed for throwing baked goods at the customers. I'd really be impressed if they flung medium-rare ribeyes, but you go with what you've got.

Carefully edited pictures posted later, if I remember to pull out my camera!

Saturday, October 09, 2010

The Pause That Refreshes

Turning Dollars Into Ash & Smoke

OK, I'm back.

I'm really enjoying my nightly excursions to kick back with a cigar and a good book. Project LOLA can be quite frustrating at times, and it's nice to have a stress-release mechanism that doesn't involve half a gallon of Blue Bell ice cream or a large pizza.

I've debated doing cigar reviews, kinda like Alan over at Blogonomicon does with pipe tobaccos. Truth be told, I'm still a tyro at the cigar game, and I don't know if I'll ever get to the point where I feel comfortable describing cigars using adjectives such as "leathery", "nutty" or "a hint of cocoa".

Still, I'm getting to know what's good, what's better, and what absolutely sucks donkey balls. I've got three to describe along those lines.

First, let's get the suckage out of the way.

I'd tried a brand called Helix recently. I just can't afford to spend $8 or $9 bucks a stick, so I was on the lookout for a more reasonably priced cigar. The Helix brand is reasonably priced at under $5, and the Connecticut-wrapper toro I tried was an OK, if uninspiring choice.

Last weekend I picked up another offering from Helix, this time a maduro of the 8" x 54 'Super 8' variety. It seemed like it was going to be a good cigar, nice & firmly wrapped, but appearances were deceiving.

The first inch or so was nice, but past that point, the wrapper gave up the ghost, and unrolled itself as I was smoking the cigar. I was left holding a rapidly-expanding wad of filler, and got no more than another inch or so before I gave up the struggle. If offered a free Helix, I might try again, but this one goes into the 'Never Again' category.

Next up was this evening's choice, a Connecticut-wrapper torpedo from Nick's Sticks. This is a boutique re-release offering from Perdomo, from the bygone days when Perdomo Cigars was known as Nick's Cigar Company.

It was impeccably constructed, and smoked very evenly. My only beef was that it was a bit ashy. Instead of holding a firm ash, it ballooned out as it burned, looking a bit like a trumpet bell. A bit messy, especially smoking outside in the wind, but still a good smoke considering the $5 price tag.

Pick of the litter was the Camacho Legend-Ario. I'd heard about these from a buddy at work, and finally tracked one down at Stogies on Westheimer. Wrapped in a oily brown Honduran wrapper that had the texture of rayskin, the 6" toro ('Bertha') was exceptionally well-made, and burned with a firm white ash that just refused to budge. It smoked for well over 80 minutes, and was tasty down to the last 3/4", when I had to let it go before I got my fingers toasted. Not the cheapest, at $8 a stick, it was well worth the price of admission.

By the by, I also found a stash of the Costa Rican D8 Emperador cigars at Stogie's. I got one at the Cigar Crawl, and it's a monster of a stick. I'm going to let these park in the humidor for a while, or at least until temptation overcomes me.

OK, off to bed...

Friday, October 08, 2010

Post #2401

I Should Get Paid For This...

No special occasion, just noticed that there were 2400 posts in the hopper.

Now, off to the streetlight with cigar, book & lawn chair.

Back in an hour or so.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

*Snerk* Alert!

Late Night Laughs

Someone very wise once told me that the true conflict in 'Twilight' was not the choice between Edward & Jacob.

It was the choice between Necrophilia & Bestiality...

Longest Week EVER

Nothing Else To Post About!

Sigh. Another 13 hour day. This might be OK for some of you, but us folks workin' for The Man aren't used to that sort of thing.

I might have to go file a grievance or something...

Ah, well. At least tomorrow's payday.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010


What About A LOLWarthog??

OK, major Diet Dr Pepper spewage over this entry:

Monday, October 04, 2010

Brown Leaves & Dead Pig

An Exercise In Overindulgence

I'm halfway through a Monday, and still feeling a bit logy from this past weekend.

My buddy Cisco Kid & I spent all day Saturday on the 14th annual West Houston Smoke & Powder Crawl. It was my 4th outing with the crew, and CK's 3rd.

Started back in the 90's by a collection of alt.smokers.cigars newsgroup people, it's an all-day smokeathon, starting in the morning at a shooting range, and wandering from cigar shop to cigar shop until evening, when a suitable cigar-friendly restaurant is the final stop.

I got there early to sight in a pistol for the cigar competition. Everyone tosses a primo stick into the pot, and winner gets the pick of the litter.

My cunning plan was upended, however. After getting a sweet little 1" group at 15 yards with the .22 Magnum revolver, the bullseye contest switched to a steel-plate contest, and I didn't have enough ammo to use that pistol.

I had plenty of ammo for the .45, but only needed one round to COMPLETELY MISS the first steel plate and DQ myself out of the shoot. My story (and I'm sticking to it!) is that I was shooting 200 gr. ammo all morning, and switched to 240gr for the contest, and inadvertently shot too low. Damn the bad luck...

The Cisco Kid did all right. 33 hits in a row got him 2nd place. Winnah and repeat Champeen was none other than the Layabout Sailor, who brought his neighbor up from Galveston to experience the fun.

After a nice (though S-L-O-W) lunch at Paul's Boat on Hwy 6, we traipsed all over town to various cigar emporiums. Cigars of the World on Hwy 6, Tobacco Habana on FM 1960, and Lone Star Tobacco just off of Louetta & 249.

Best prices & service were at Tobacco Habana, the best lounge was at COTW, and the most knowledgeable staff was at LST. Good shops all, but I still prefer Serious Cigars on FM 1960.

Here’s the box of freebie goodies I got. It’s short a couple of Montecristos that got consumed during the day.

(Click pic to embiggenate!)

The trio on the left and the tissue-wrapped Fonseca are direct from Havana. One of the Crawlers has a side business importing Cubans from Switzerland.

Oddly enough, the best one out of the bunch was one called a D8 Emperador by Vegas de Santiago from Costa Rica. A most tasty stick, and I'll have to cajole my buddy Rockhauler into doing a little Central American shopping on my behalf.

Last stop of the night was at Perry's Steakhouse up on Cypresswood. Perry's is an upscale joint, but they let us in anyway!

It's a cigar-friendly place, so we all lit up before, during and after the meal. The best part about hanging out with cigar folks is that no one gripes about secondhand stogie smoke!

Dinner was pretty damn tasty. I had the fried asparagus appetizer (covered with chunks of crabmeat and shredded parmesan! YUM!), and a slab of dead pig that was almost as big as my head.

Carved tableside, it's a huge chunk of pork loin with 4 ribs attached, and it's probably 2-2.5 lbs of solid meat. I probably should have paced myself, but this was my monthly splurge, and I devoured the whole damn thing.

As a result, I spent all day Sunday in & out of a meat coma, waking up only occasionally to go shpritz some asparagus pee.

So, if you're a fan of the cigars, make plans to attend the Crawl next year!!

Oh, I almost forgot...

The Layabout Sailor dared me to blog about this. The waitress at Paul's Boat (not the tall blonde Russian hottie, the other one) was a well-endowed blonde that wore a Play-Doh T-shirt. I got to wondering if that was an invitation to grab ahold and start molding to my preference...

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Random Macros

Urban Flora & Fauna

Here's some samples from the macro function on my Canon pocket camera taken while waiting for the parking shuttle.

Some sort of katydid.

Flowerius Orangeola. Or something like that...

You'd have to be from south of the Mason-Dixon line to ID this kind of flower!

Friday, October 01, 2010

No Bias In The News??

I Don' Theenk So, Loosie!!

Saw this gem of a headline on

Looks like Baghdad Bob got himself a new job as a pollster for Newsweak!